I’m heading to Las Vegas this month for a mini-weekend getaway (pulling kind of a #8). Las Vegas has so much to offer tourists - whatever you like, you can probably get it in Sin City. But if your budget is not unlimited, you’ll have to choose what’s on the top of your priority list. So what do you spend your money on? Do you like to eat (try out new restaurants and buffets), play (gambling & shows) or sleep (hotels)?
I had a few friends who went to Vegas to specifically have dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian. With entrees hovering around the $30-$40 range, it’s the place for folks who like to eat! There are great restaurants inside all the casinos – in fact, I’d say Las Vegas has highest concentration of high-end restaurants all along one street. Where else can you walk from Tau to Guy Savoy to Nobu in less than 10 minutes? But even for someone who loves food as much as I do, I can’t bring myself to shell out the big bucks. I love food, but I feel that I can get better food, for cheaper, in Southern California than I can in Las Vegas. When I travel, I like to try the local specialities of the place , but there’s nothing that particularly pulls my attention to Las Vegas. Or rather, because of my budgetary concerns I refuse to let myself be swayed! So perhaps I’m just a fox crying sour grapes!
If you want to party it up, Las Vegas is the place to be. I was comparing notes with a friend who goes to Vegas quite often about what we like to do and how much we spend, etc. It turns out that she usually stays at Imperial Palace, whose location on the Strip and price outshine its amenities. But that’s OK, because she spend only a few hours in her hotel room while she’s in town. The rest of the time she is dancing up a storm at all the hottest clubs. Cover charges and drinks range from $20/entrance to $60/entrance. If you want bottle service, that can set you back $1,000-plus. If you are a group of girls, my friend has informed me, you can into clubs free or for a discounted rate.
So if I don’t spend my money on food or entertainment, what DO I spend on? Apparently, I am an 80-year-old stuck in a twentysomething’s body, because more than anything else a nice hotel to rest in is my priority #1. Las Vegas hotels give you the biggest bang for your buck. Because they can count on gaming revenue, the 5-star and 4-star hotels are often cheaper than comparable hotels in any other area. As long as I don’t go during New Year’s Eve or Super Bowl Sunday, the prices are usually very reasonable.
Case in point: the Four Seasons in Las Vegas cost $234/night for a Superior Room on a weekend in April, but the Four Seasons in Santa Barbara cost $605/night for a Superior Room on the same weekend! (Now you understand why we are high-tailing it out of Santa Barbara right after the wedding reception).
So that’s what I spend most of my money on in Las Vegas – the hotel. The other things – eat and play, I try to do on the cheap. We walk around taking in the night lights. I’ve wanted to see a Cirque du Soleil number but never could pluck down the money for tickets. Instead, we watch the free pirate show at Treasure Island. We try to fill up on a buffet and then have dinner at mid-priced restaurants such as Noodles in Bellagio, where we can get a big steaming bowl of beef noodles for $10/person. When we lounge in the hotel room, it’s truly enjoyable. I watch HGTV, take naps, hang out in the casino for a little bit of slot machine action before we go back to the comfort of our room and lounge all over again.
When I compare notes with my friends, many times we spend about the same. I may sleep on expensive sheets, another friend will have seen Cirque du Soleil, and another have sampled the finest meals at all the restaurants. That’s what’s so great about personal finance – different strokes for different folks!